Ford Mondeo review
A long time coming, the new Ford Mondeo is a much more refined and mature-feeling product, but some of the handling magic has also been lost
The latest Mondeo is bigger, plusher and more comfortable than ever before, while its sleek looks and high specification take it up a notch in terms of desirability in the market place. That means it’s well equipped to deal with the latest selection of talented rivals like the VW Passat, Skoda Superb and Mazda 6.
If you’re used to the Mondeo delivering sports car-like handling (as previous versions certainly have done), then the latest model may disappoint you. It’s not as sharp to drive, but it’s certainly very cosseting, with a notably improved ride comfort.
This is also a very practical choice, whether in hatchback or capacious estate guises, offering plenty of room for passengers and luggage. And the current range of engines is mostly very impressive, offering the potential for low running costs as well as healthy performance on the road.
The new Ford Mondeo certainly took its time coming to the UK market. It went on sale in the US way back in 2013, but due to production constraints and the relocation of Ford’s Gent, Belgium, factory to Valencia in Spain, European buyers had to wait a good while longer.
However, the full range of Ford Mondeo models is now on sale in the UK. That includes conventional five-door hatchback and estate bodystyles as well as a four-door saloon (the latter the only way to buy the new Hybrid model). It’s all part of the brand’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, meaning the Mondeo is sold largely unchanged all around the world.
And with its upmarket interior and high-quality plastics, the Mondeo is arguably pitched at a rather more upmarket set of rivals than the old model. Threats from premium competitors like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, are ever present, as are those from the continual onslaught of trendier family crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai. It’s fair to say the Mondeo’s job has never been harder.
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The Mondeo offers petrol, diesel and petrol-electric hybrid drivetrains, a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed Powershift semi-automatic transmissions, and a focus more towards the comfort and safety end of the spectrum where once the Mondeo was an out-and-out driver’s choice.
The usual Ford range tiers apply – the entry level Mondeo is the Style, followed by the Zetec, while Titanium and Titanium X versions top the tree. A brand new luxury line has also arrived in the form of the Mondeo Vignale model. This takes comfort and refinement up a notch – but at a price (the Vignale range starts from nearly £30k). It gets a full leather interior, bespoke seats and is available as a hatchback, an estate and a saloon (in both Hybrid and diesel forms).
Engines, performance and drive
Thanks to the fact this new Mondeo is part of Ford’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, more emphasis has been placed on ride comfort and interior quality than the sportiness the car displays when going around corners. Where the old car was the sharpest steer in this class, the new one is softer and less focused. The steering, for example, feels much lighter and has less feel, and the body leans more when you’re cornering at speed.
That said, the Mondeo is a far more refined prospect than before, with a notably better ride quality. It’s still enjoyable to drive, but not as superlatively so as the old car – nor as much as the class-leader, the highly enjoyable Mazda 6. Optional self-levelling rear suspension is worth considering if you’re towing or carrying heavy loads regularly, while four-wheel drive is also available on some models.
A massive engine range has now blossomed in the Mondeo family, encompassing petrol, diesel and Hybrid options.
Ford is challenging the default choice of diesel in this market sector. Although diesel Mondeos take over 60 per cent of sales (largely because of the dominance of the fleet market, which is very concerned with CO2 emissions levels), the 1.5-litre petrol EcoBoost has greatly impressed us. It may not have a major slug of low-down torque, but it revs very cleanly, sounds good and is supremely quiet when cruising.
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It may seem surprising to find a 1.0-litre engine powering a car as big as the Mondeo, but the petrol 1.0-litre EcoBoost does actually cope. However, the flat power delivery from this 123bhp engine means it needs to be worked hard to get the best from it. The first three gears are closely stacked to aid round-town performance, but fourth, fifth and sixth are more widely spread for relaxed cruising. That means frequent downchanges are needed when overtaking or tackling steep hills.
Ford has also launched a 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol Mondeo with 237bhp. This isn’t badged as an ‘ST’ despite it being the best performing model in the range – perhaps because it won’t trouble any of the current raft of hot hatchbacks in a straight line.
As for turbodiesels, Ford now has its full range of units on sale. It starts with a 1.5 TDCi unit offering 118bhp. Step up to the larger 2.0-litre TDCi unit and there’s a choice of 148bhp, 177bhp and 207bhp outputs. The 177bhp 2.0-litre TDCi doesn’t feel that fast, so for diesel fans we’d recommend either the 207bhp version or stick with the cheaper 148bhp model.
The petrol-electric saloon-only Hybrid accounts for only a tiny handful of UK sales. It’s not even the greenest model in the range (although its 99g/km CO2 figure does keep it tax-efficient), but more importantly its increased weight blunts handling and the whining CVT transmission screams under hard acceleration.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Overall the Mondeo range doesn’t quite have the fuel economy figures to match the best in class. If you’re after maximum frugality, the best engine of the bunch in terms of efficiency is the 1.5 TDCi Duratorq, which boasts an official fuel economy figure of 78.5mpg and very low CO2 emissions of just 94g/km. The larger 2.0-litre TDCi diesel returns up to 68.9mpg and its CO2 is as low as 107g/km.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost has less wildly optimistic claims than the rest of Ford’s three-cylinder range, with a combined figure of 55.4mpg. The six-speed Powershift automatic gearbox is more harmful to mpg and CO2 emissions than VW’s DSG gearbox, though.
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As for the range-topping Vignale, this offers little appeal for private buyers, but for the heavily dominant fleet market – where roughly 70 per cent of Mondeo sales end up – the small increment in monthly tax payments makes the Vignale an attractive proposition.
The Hybrid Mondeo’s CO2 emissions just duck below the 100g/km barrier, but its claimed fuel economy of 67.3mpg is some way off being the best of the Mondeo range. On the plus side, the Hybrid isn't significantly more expensive than other models and it does feature an ‘eco-meter’ that rates your driving efficiency via dashboard ‘leaf’ symbols. Frankly, the Hybrid is hard to recommend, only really making sense for taxi drivers.
Insurance is very competitive by class standards. The 1.5 TDCi diesel has the lowest insurance grouping at 17E. Most of the rest of the range is 23E, but the higher-power (177bhp and 207bhp) 2.0 diesels are 27E and even the range-topping 237bhp EcoBoost is a respectable group 29E.
Ford says it intends to sell only 20,000 Mondeos each year – that compares with 100,000 units in the model’s heyday – but even so, residuals aren’t as strong as the VW Passat’s due to the perceived badge value. Make sure you secure a good discount when buying new.
Interior, design and technology
While the Mondeo is undoubtedly still recognisable as a Mondeo, Ford’s emphasis is to take it away from the humdrum rep-mobile of old, and make the all-new model stand out from the crowd. The styling was first seen on the US-market Ford Fusion back at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show, but production delays caused by the global recession pushed back the car’s European launch until 2014.
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The front is similar to the latest Ford Focus and Fiesta, complete with an Aston Martin-style grille, while the rear end has a clean appearance. The shape looks – and is in fact – more aerodynamic, thanks to an arching roofline. Ford claims the new profile, active grille shutters and underbody panels contribute to a 10 per cent reduction in drag.
Inside, the Mondeo is not only a major improvement over the fussily styled old car, but better than the US-spec Fusion too. Sober materials lend it a mature, premium look and feel.
The range-topping Vignale version adds chrome detailing on the outside, unique alloy wheels and a bespoke leather dash. It’s certainly plusher than the standard model but not yet plush enough to see off the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class with which the Vignale competes at this price point.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The touch-sensitive climate control panel fitted to the Mondeo in America has been ditched in favour of a far more user-friendly physical button set-up. You still get a large eight-inch central touchscreen for things like the radio and sat-nav, but the climate control and heated seats are now controlled via conventional buttons.
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A DAB radio/CD system is standard (including sat-nav on the Titanium grade), or a premium 12-speaker system is optional. Two USB connectivity ports are provided, while the latest SYNC2 voice-activated connectivity system enables you to make hands-free phone calls and hear text messages. It also lets you control music by using your voice, and allows wireless connections to your devices.
You can even ask it to find a restaurant for you. An Emergency Assistance function also means that if the airbag is deployed, a direct call can be made to the emergency services, including your GPS coordinates. Buy a Vignale and you even get a personal ‘Vignale Relationship Manager’.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Mondeo’s rakish looks don’t compromise its interior functionality. There’s plenty of space for five adults and a big boot. A deep centre armrest, big cupholders and extra space behind the floating centre console mean oddment storage in the cabin is another Mondeo strong suit. The optional panoramic sunroof makes the car feel much more spacious inside, too.
The large exterior dimensions make this a cumbersome beast, and the hatchback’s narrow rear screen limits visibility and makes parking tricky. You might therefore consider Active Park Assist, which can steer you into parking spaces at the push of a button. Having located a suitable space as you drive past, it then automatically steers you in.
At 4,871mm long and 1,852mm wide, the Ford Mondeo is definitely among the largest cars in its class – although surprisingly, the estate is actually fractionally shorter than the hatchback (at 4,867mm). Overall the Mondeo range comfortably outsizes its main rivals like the Vauxhall Insignia (4,842mm long), Skoda Superb (4,861mm), and VW Passat (4,767mm).
Leg room, head room & passenger space
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Getting into the Ford Mondeo is very easy thanks to its wide-opening doors. And because of its large dimensions, it comfortably accommodates five adults. Even tall people will enjoy lots of space in the back, although headroom can be tight for the centre rear passenger. The Titanium X Pack model gives you 10-way adjustable heated electric front seats, which are very comfortable indeed.
The standard hatchback boasts a whopping 541-litre boot, which expands to 1,437 litres with the seats down. It has the distinct advantage over rivals like the VW Passat and Mazda 6 that the tailgate opening is huge, so it’s very easy to load. The estate has slightly less room with the seats up, at 500 litres, but it offers more seat-down capacity at 1,605 litres. The boxier shape proves more practical in day-to-day use, too.
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However, the Hybrid disappoints – it has only 383 litres of boot space because the massive battery pack sits bang in the middle of the load area, eating up space. Even worse, the rear seats can’t be folded away. It’s a real shame that the batteries aren’t hidden under the floor.
Reliability and Safety
Ford has work to do with the Mondeo, as evidenced by your feedback to us in the Auto Express 2015 Driver Power survey. The Mondeo finished a lowly 140th out of 200 cars in the latest survey, with reliability rated even lower – it was ranked 162nd. The Mondeo was also rated 162nd for build quality. At least owners rated it more highly for roadholding and practicality.
The Mondeo makes a better showing for safety, though. It scored a maximum five stars in its 2014 Euro NCAP crash test, thanks to a plethora of passive and active safety systems on board, plus a stiff body structure. Its adult occupant protection score was 86 per cent, children 82 per cent and pedestrians 66 per cent.
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Driver alert and lane keeping alert are standard on high-spec models and optional on others. Most of the best safety features are optional across the board, however. These include Active City Stop and Active Braking (two automatic emergency braking systems), adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and pedestrian detection. One advanced new safety feature, costing £175, is rear seatbelt airbags, which inflate in an impact to decrease the load on the passenger’s body.
Ford is very much middle-of-the-road with its three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. It’s possible to extend the warranty, at extra cost, to either four years/80,000 miles or five years/100,000 miles. Some rival brands do offer more generous standard cover, like Toyota (five years), Hyundai (five years) and Kia (seven years).
The Mondeo range has a service interval of 12,500 miles, which is about the industry average, but you do need to have a service at least once a year to keep the warranty intact. The timing belt will need changing at 125,000 miles.
Optional ‘Protect Premium Plan’ service schemes can spread the cost of servicing; Ford offers two years/two services over 80,000 miles or three years/three services over 100,000 miles.